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Could a National Park City embrace our Lockdown Meadows...

Our latest lockdown reflections come from member of Glasgow National Park City Group and Seven Lochs Project Coordinator Scott Ferguson. He's been enjoying the explosion of unmown meadows across the city - could they be a feature of a post-covid National Park City?

One of the few silver – or maybe I should say multi-coloured – linings to the lockdown restrictions was the blooming of wildflowers where there would normally be mown grass. Social media was buzzing with people discovering new patches of colour during their daily dose of greenspace almost as much as those new patches were buzzing with bees and other pollinators.

Now, with restrictions lifting, the mowers are out once more. Chaos being returned to order? I know we’ve inherited from previous generations the idea that a neatly mown lawn is the height of refinement. That acres of cut grass is a sign of how much we care for our parks and greenspaces. But I think the time is right to rebel against this old order and bring a bit of wildness back.

The lack of lockdown mowing showed us what happens naturally when the grass – and the wildflowers that hang on under the mowers – is allowed to grow. That gives me hope for what could happen if we do it all again next year with a little bit more planning. An early spring cut here to help the flowers compete with the grasses, a scattering of annual wildflower seed there to bring more colour, some plug planting to add greater species diversity, some ongoing mowing to make paths to enable access. With a bit of creative thought we could have a patchwork of colourful, species-rich grasslands across our cities. Good for people, even better for pollinators.

Unless an area of short grass is needed for sport or events then perhaps long grass with mown paths should be our default? Maybe we should start to see regular mowing as an unnecessary journey – and cut the carbon emissions from machinery instead? Will mowing become one of the things we look back on in a few years and think ‘why did we keep doing that for so long’?

I know it’s not as simple as just switching off the mowers. If we want our urban grasslands to be good for biodiversity and people they need careful management, and councils often don’t have the machinery or staff needed to carry out the management required at the right time of year. But I think our lockdown meadows, however short-lived, have shown that people do want a change for the wilder, and that’s something to celebrate.

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